The stilled silence was so thick that it was palpable except for the pulsing of blood pumped throughout his body in swift circuits that flew through him and back to his rapidly beating heart. Petals' breathing beside him had steadied and he wondered at her ability to remain collected when faced with danger on every side. Those shadowy figures would attack soon, their growls steadily rumbling louder in his ears as if they were attempting to disorient him with sound and then catch him unawares. Infact if he had been in this very situation before now, there was no question that death would've been the only outcome of being outnumbered. In a cat brawl or any fight, numbers and strength mattered most of all even if wit and cunning were more apparent as a tool for the side with less chance at victory. The wild decreed that, demanded it. Survival of the fittest and the most connected by allies and friends alike under the same cause or allegiance more often then not claimed the better chance.
Even though all of this echoed somewhere within instinct for Denali, even though it met him with as much brilliance as the glowering eyes that cornered him amid the leaning trees beside Petal, somehow fear was fading away to acceptance.
Whatever the she-cat at his side had done to him by opening the mind connection and breaking through his barriers, he couldn't explain.
The tom felt in tune with the earth to a stronger degree as if his paws could feel every shift of the ground, every disturbance and footfall, every insect that moved and shifted, the many life forms that writhed beneath the soil, within the trees and at distances far away. Gasping at the sheer massive amount of information that he was now privy to he was slow to react, but only at first.
As the first cat leapt at him through the darkness, the ground where it had gathered itself became clear, ringing within his vision like the peeling of a bell. The air where the body sailed, the arch measured and marked by invisible trails that led back to the source, within the felines chest to it's beating heart. Time seemed to slow and a red aura seemed to fill his vision, the clarity unlike anything he had experienced. He somehow knew the exact moment the cat unsheathed its claws, each breath it took as well as the staunch determination that echoed in it's thoughts to slay him.
Sidestepping he had only meant to butt his head into his enemies side to throw the cat off balance. However as all returned to normal and his skull made contact with his attackers side, the cat went flying helplessly through the air before crashing into a tree with a loud crack! The force of the contact made Denali flinch as he watched the body slump down with a heavy thud in all probability near the verge of death.
What the hell!
Soon he was converged on by several cats claws slashing and drawing blood, teeth closing in around him. A queen had managed to bit into one of his hind legs sinking into his fur and the flesh beneath and making him cry out in pain. A bold tom straddled him trying to find where he was most venerable. Slashing at the toms' face he wriggled free dashing back the way he had come Petal beside him.
A storm of yowls shifted through the night behind them, all sounding together and raging with anger at the escape of their intended quarry.
To his surprise there was something in that call, a heightened sense that pulsed right through him to his heart. He felt a welling sadness in the pit of his stomach as if he longed to somehow help those shadows.
Chancing a glance behind he wasn't able to make out any of them following even with the moon, free now from the tangle of clouds that whisked steadily along the vast expanses of the sky. It was as if their assailants had been a mist that one moment had been an all too serious tangible threat and the next were nothing more then faded waves of memory.
Even so they had been real, they had been...physical.
How could they be?
None of them remained now beneath the trees, the only trace the faint smell of anger and confusion mixed with vibril misery. Pungent clouds of it billowed through the night, filling his lungs with ice that staunched his breath and chilled his spine. Nothing had been natural about the specters, the cats of Mirii. Shaking he followed Petal, his thoughts elsewhere as his paws pattered along the flagstones once again.
Along the edge of the villa were twin statues of cats both regal and carved of fine grayish white marble though both now stood weathered by the passing of time and the elements. One was female and the other male, chipped and cracked only in a few spots although the damage was minimal.
The two felines took refuge behind the female which was closest to them and bordered by a hedge of ivy that ran along before the property led out into the forest beyond.
Unhinged a bit by the shock of what he had just experienced Denali began to groom his chest casting wary glances back along the way they had come still only half believing that they had been able to escape.
Petal to his great chagrin sat impassively, catching her breath but reserved as if the whole thing were normal. Had she been through similar reoccurring circumstances? Why did he always have to be the one inexperienced and new to everything?
Anger at the unfairness of it all boiled up in him until it threatened to spill out of him. He couldn't take it anymore!
"What in the hell was that!? You couldn't have warned me that they would just appear out of nowhere? Why wasn't I able to smell them before they attacked us?"
His voice seethed and came out much more vicious then he had intended but at this point he didn't care. He wanted to know.
"They were once cats of Mirii, killed or otherwise betrayed by Naga-Skal and those she was able to trick into following her" she meowed quietly her voice shaking. "There was one who was lost that she found and together they bore down and destroyed Mirii, until there was little left. Then when it was done she betrayed the cat who had helped her and killed it just like the rest so that no one remained to threaten her rule. As long as Naga-Skal rules the spirits of those she murdered will never rest, trapped between the physical and the spiritual world, doomed to hovered between life and death, hunting the living whenever they stray too far from safety."
"Every time that I get an answer from you it always creates more questions" he growled baring his teeth and stalking to her until his nose was pressed into hers, the fur along his back bristling. "Give me a straight answer damn you! No more riddles!"
"That's not my fault!" she hissed coolly her voice smoothing over with collected anger. "I am not going to be the one to fill your head with all of this after what happened. It has cost me too much already to be with you again."
Whiskers twitching he turned and bowed his head in defeat.
"Something is wrong....something is really wrong."
"Well how would you feel being thrust into something like this Petal!? How do you expect!" He was shaking now the world glistening before as his eyes misted over with tears. "What do I do?"
A long paused followed as she remained silent and distant until he felt her tail curl around his reassuringly even though they stayed in silence.
When she did speak any trace of emotion had vanished as if she had pulled into herself further then before.
"Tonight was a full moon. At half moon those of us who remain meet together at a gathering of sorts....even before it was a tradition that was kept in Mirii. At half moon at that gathering look for a cat missing an eye, scarred and strong that answers to the name Argent. He may or may not be able to tell you something....."
"For now I must leave you."
Petals' words hardly registered in his mind although he nodded slowly to show that he had heard her. His world was dark and all he wanted was to disappear or else understand. He knew however that he would have to wait for the knowledge, for the chance to have things brought to light.
Shaking himself he turned to meet her gray green gaze pleadingly scuffling the ground with a forepaw as he tried to find the right words.
"I know that I have no right to ask you what happened...and I know by now that I won't get the answers right away but I have to ask.....there seems to be something between you and me...something unresolved. I feel like somehow I hurt you or you hurt me but that it was somehow more then those shadows...have I read into it wrong or is there something that would explain why I feel so terrible every time I focus too long on you or get too close?"
He held his breath after he had finished stumbling along as he had and expecting to see more anger from the unpredictable queen. However as he watched it was as if the wall that she had built up around herself was crumbling down to reveal someone new, someone just as lost and scared and alone as he was. One silver tear slid down the side of her muzzle as she stiffened, her features struggling for the composed mask that she was used to wearing, only in this territory it didn't exist.
"I loved you once Denali" she meowed softly her voice shaking and cracking with despair. "Once there was something unresolved and something boundless between us....now when I look at you, connect and feel and see how much you have lost of yourself I'm torn. After what happened I still need to come to except that maybe I was foolish for ever having dreamed of padding beside you as a mate."
For the third time that night Denali was at a loss for anything to say as she left, slipping away into the early morning haze that trailed the stars. The pieces were beginning to come together only he was beginning to dread even more what they would create when he had collected them all and assembled them into one unobscured picture. He had yet to unravel who he was or the notorious Naga-Skal or Petal, The Dark Call or what really had transpired before he had woken up with the sun shining in his eyes and grime covering his sore body...
It was indeed too late to turn back but even so he wished that he would have listened to Samantha, or better yet that he had never heard of Mirii....